Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

CHAPTER 1: The Conquest

The Battle of Sainte-Foy (2 pages)

Levis Besieges Quebec

The idea of laying siege to Quebec had its detractors, who did not hesitate to call the undertaking "Lévis's folly." But Lévis knew that his army, isolated and surrounded by enemy forces that were numerically superior by far, would become discouraged after their defeat on the Plains of Abraham if something daring were not suggested to them. The men had to be given a boost, to become galvanized to fight hard against the British. Lévis managed to do this, and in May 1760 the French army arrived at Quebec.

General James Murray was in command of the British garrison of approximately 7,300 officers and soldiers, all regulars. When informed that the French army had come to lay siege he began by evacuating the entire population of Quebec, Sainte-Foy and Lorette, and ordered that the suburbs of Saint-Roch and Sainte-Famille be razed so that the attackers could not hide behind houses to approach the fortifications. Part of the garrison was then assigned the task of building forward trenches to the west of the city near Sainte-Foy. On April 27, as the French army approached, there were a few skirmishes between the French cavalry and the British detachments. The very next day, Murray decided to attack the French before they could entrench. The British line, 3,200 men strong, advanced on Lévis's troops. Field artillery nearby shelled the French positions. If Murray managed to break through the left side of the French line, Lévis's army would find itself cornered between English bayonets and the St. Lawrence River.